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Report: Kansas Economy Growing Slower Than Nation

By ROXANA HEGEMAN

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) â¿¿ A Wichita State University research center reported Thursday that the Kansas economy is growing at a slower rate than the nation's economy overall in a forecast that anticipates much of the same next year.

The Center for Economic Development and Business Research forecast in its jobs outlook report that next year's nonfarm employment growth is expected to be 1.4 percent, a gain of 19,000 jobs in Kansas.

Kansas' economy is growing more slowly than the rest of the nation, but the state also didn't decline during the recession nearly as much as the rest of the United States, CEDBR director Jeremy Hill said in a phone interview.

At the same time the national economy is improving, the number of unemployed Kansans has continued to increase.

That is because the number of new jobs in Kansas has grown by just 1 percent as of August and has not kept up with the growth in the state's labor force, CEDBR said. Job growth is expected hit 1.1 percent growth by the end of the year.

The largest employment growth forecast for next year is in the service sectors with the anticipated addition of 12,202 service jobs in Kansas. Of those, education and health services account for 4,254 new jobs.

Among the factors woven into that forecast is the anticipated impact of the implementation of the health care law.

Health care "consumption" is expected to increase "creating a little bit of a bubble" as more insured people seek medical services, Hill said.

But the biggest shift appears to be how companies plan to respond to its implementation. Last year, companies were telling CEDBR that they might just drop their company insurance policies, now they are saying that "since everybody is in the same boat" they are just going to match what their competitors are doing, Hill said. Companies with unions in each industry are planning to match whoever comes up with the first contract in that market.

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